“So you’re just going to leave the ice there, huh?” N mused, referring to two ice cubes that had escaped the tray and found their way to the floor. I was in the kitchen preparing a bottle of ice water for our beach trip as he approached me. “Footprints too?” Apparently, walking in my sandals near the fallen ice had left smudges on the tile.
N was probably being playful, but his ill-timed comments struck a nerve. Only moments earlier, I had single-handedly cleaned the entire kitchen, including a sink full of dirty dishes. Now he was complaining about ice cubes? Exasperated, I told him that I couldn’t do it all. I apologized with a biting sharpness intended to inflict maximum guilt. After that, my mood went south fast. N attempted to be affectionate and make light conversation during our stroll to the beach. All he received was terse replies and body language colder than the ice melting back on the kitchen floor.
We eventually settled into our spot on the sand and laid quietly side by side. The K of relationships past may have let this anger passively build until it boiled over and ruined a perfectly enjoyable summer day. Instead, I told N that I wanted to talk and work through my bad mood. Anxiously forcing out the words, I explained that when he criticizes me it makes me feel resentful. N paused for a moment. “I was only joking. But when I make those comments, it negatively effects your emotions. I say things without thinking sometimes and I need to work on that,” he conceded.
And with that, my dark mood washed away as quickly as the ocean climbed the shore and reversed with the tide. N has always been great at reading my disposition based on the slightest shift in tone or facial expression. He also knows exactly what to say to help balance me when I’m on edge. I’ve learned that in a relationship, it’s important to be open about your feelings – even the silly, irrational ones (yes, I admit it). Laying next to N at the beach that day, I was reminded about the value of two-way communication. That, and the hidden danger of fallen ice cubes.